Internet Defamation Defenses: Truth, Fair, Reasonable, No Harm, Section 230

Graphic of Know the rules written on blackboard to accompany article about internet defamation defensesSued for online defamation? Looking to mount a libel defense? Below are five  Internet defamation defenses that have worked in the past.

Internet Defamation Defenses #1: Truth

Truth is always a defense for defamation. But remember: Parties can also use other torts, like false light or intentional infliction of emotional distress. However, if the statement in question is provably false, then the chances of winning a libel lawsuit increase, significantly.

Internet Defamation Defenses #2: Fair Comment and Criticism

Many bloggers are amateur pundits without access to professional fact checking tools. And sometimes, they rely on questionable sources, which can land them a defamation ring. In the majority of these types of blogger defamation cases, defendants regularly rely on “Fair comment and criticism” arguments.

Click here to read more about fair comment and criticism.

Internet Defamation Defenses #3: Reasonable Comment

“Reasonableness” plays a significant role in U.S. defamation cases. If a statement is blatantly outrageous, a judge or jury may deem it too unbelievable to be defamatory.

This standard, in part, explains why satire and parody aren’t defamatory.

Leagues of bloggers have escaped libel verdicts by essentially arguing “hyperbolic exaggeration.”

Internet Defamation Defenses #4: Not Damaging

If defendants can prove that their statements didn’t cause harm, a judge or jury may rule in their favor.

Remember, defamation only exists in the presence of material damage. For example, if people never saw the content in question, it couldn’t have caused harm, and therefore not defamatory. Likewise, if a defendant can show that nobody accessed a webpage containing contested content, proving harm would be near impossible.

Internet Defamation Defenses #5: Not My Problem – Section 230 of the CDA

Social media and user-generated content is the norm, and most websites are interactive.

Officials amended the Communications Decency Act with Section 230, to protect sites from assuming responsibility for user content. Section 230 ultimately stops ISPs from being sued over user’s content. It’s the reason why Facebook doesn’t get sued every time Joe Loudmouth litters the platform with libelous nonsense.

Click here to read more about the CDA.

In search of an Internet libel attorney? Get in touch with Kelly / Warner Law. Our firm is home to both defamation plaintiff and defense attorneys — and perhaps most importantly, our rates are set with small- to medium-sized businesses in mind.

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